by Sherry Heyl
It is just a date on the calendar, what makes New Year’s Day such a big deal? It is the day the whole world embraces as a fresh start. On this day we hit the reset button, start a new year with new goals.
People have been making New Year’s Resolutions for at least 4,000 years starting with the Babylonians as they planted new crops. The Romans had a similar tradition. When Julius Caesar set January 1 as the new year, January named after Janus, the two-faced god who reflected on the previous year and looked forward to the new year, our contemporary New Year’s traditions were born. (Source History Channel)
I asked a few freelancer friends what was on their list of resolutions. Below are the top five.
1. Learn at least 2 new skills
This should be on everyone’s resolution list. Every day new skills are needed to do our jobs. Every year jobs are disappearing and people are faced with reinventing themselves.
Not only is learning new skills a shield to becoming irrelevant, focusing on learning new skills will enable you to grow and change and navigate your career on the course of your choosing. The more you know the more freedom you will have.
There are several online courses available to learn new skills. You can get hands-on experience through volunteer work and build or expand your portfolio of work. A third way to learn a new skill is to work alongside someone who has mastered the skill you are seeking to gain.
2. Increase billings by 20%
The only way a freelancer can get a raise is to increase their billings. Developing new, in-demand skills is one way to increase billings. Another way is more clients. More clients more often than not it means more time working, so that is not really a raise.
Other ways to increase your billings is to scale your offerings. You can do this by working with other freelancers with complementary skills.
Finally, you can simply increase your rates, but you will need to be prepared to show that your offerings still provide a significant ROI for your clients. However, some clients will still look for another solution, which means you will need to be ready to find new clients.
3. Be more proactive
Whether you just started freelancing or have been freelancing for years, it is easy to become reactive to the needs of clients. At some point, freelancers find that they are no longer steering their career or acting as a trusted consultant to their clients, but are simply taking orders.
The first step to proactively forging forward is to know what direction you would like to go into. As freelancers, we tend to focus mostly on finding the next client and providing a service that they are willing to pay for. Doing so, over and over again, we forget what skills, knowledge, and experience we want to offer and the business we want to build.
As freelancers, our array of experiences are immense because of the varied projects we get to work on. We can use those experiences in many different ways. If we do not know what direction we want to go we will continuously go into the direction we are pushed in. We will continue to be reactive. If we resolve to be more proactive we need to know the direction we choose to go.
4. Get out of the house more
One of the benefits of being a freelancer is the ability to work from home. But the comforts of home will start to feel like solitary confinement after awhile.
Some effects of solitary confinement include difficulty in thinking, depression, and paranoia. These symptoms do show up with freelancers who do not get out of the house often enough.
This is why coffee shops are such a popular place to work at and why co-working spaces are becoming so popular. Other places to work at include hotel lobbies, parks, and bars.
Join associations and go to meetup groups. Not only will this help you with learning more and increasing sales, it will give you reasons to get out of the house.
5. Spend more time on hobbies
This one is my personal resolution. As a freelancer, I spend time looking for new clients, learning new skills, marketing my brand, and providing services to clients. When asked about my hobbies, more often than not I think my hobbies are the same thing as my work. After all, I am doing the work I love.
But I have neglected to do things that are just for me. Over the years I have completely neglected my creative writing. When I am around my writer friends who are talking about their writing groups and novels that are a work in progress I feel that longing to start my book or develop characters that have so often popped up in my head. But I never set time aside to work on them because I think I should spend all my free time working on my career. This year I will develop character. I will also learn how to use the nice camera my husband bought me a few years ago and become a better photographer.
Not only does spending more time on hobbies help clear the mind, bring balance and enjoyment, oftentimes it also improves the skills you use for your career as well.
Here’s to a prosperous and happy New Year.